Reliable Security Information

Surviving ricin

Contrary to American war on terror mythology, castor seeds don't make a good weapon. They contain ricin and it's easy to grind them to powder but, In fact, it is harder than one might think to achieve simple poisoning.

castor seeds
Not a particularly helpful newspaper graphic.

A recent case of attempted suicide by a 37-year old woman using ricin had a happy ending. And news reports on it are helpful in illustrating how little Americans know about ricin despite being told about how it could be a deadly weapon for well over a decade.


A suicidal North Logan woman who survived poisoning with the deadly ricin toxin earlier this month is getting another break: she will not be criminally charged.

North Park Police Chief Kim Hawkes confirmed Tuesday that the 37-year-old [Utah] woman, who ingested a large amount of ricin-laden castor beans on Oct. 3 in the basement apartment of a home in North Logan, was released from the hospital last week
. -- Salt Lake City newspaper

Police say around 10:30pm Wednesday night, a women living in a basement apartment [in North Logan] attempted to commit suicide by boiling caster [sic] beans. When the woman boiled the beans, she created ricin. The fumes contaminated the home, putting the family of 4 upstairs at risk.

Police say the woman did eat some of the beans and was taken to the hospital. The family living upstairs was also taken to the hospital to get decontaminated from ricin gases
. -- KUTV

According to North Park Police Chief Kim Hawkes, the woman purchased about 60 castor beans from an Internet website about a month ago. After soaking the beans for 24 hours and then boiling them, the woman ingested about half of them, he said. -- Kansas City newspaper

Proteins are denatured by heating. Ricin is a protein. And it is certain that it is destroyed by heat. Over a half a century ago American weapon scientists were interested in using ricin as a weapon. Their attempts to work with it involved the generation of heat and they were forced to notice it decreased the activity of what they were after. It is that simple. Boiling the castor seeds, you see, is most probably what saved the woman's life, although she was still hospitalized after eating 30 of them.

Boiling castor seeds does not produce ricin gas. A Hazmat team was summoned. No one except the woman was every really in any danger.

America used to process large amounts of castor seeds. The mills produced dusts and mash containing ricin. Neither killed workers.

In the Ricin Mama video, you can see workers in a foreign country heaving castor seeds into a grinder, the process producing clouds of powder, some of which must contain ricin.

"Soligenix, Inc. (OTCQB: SNGX) (Soligenix or the Company), a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing products to treat inflammatory diseases and biodefense medical countermeasures (MCMs) where there remains an unmet medical need, announced today submission of a full contract proposal to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases," reads a press release from Soligenix today, a company that has been paid by the US government for over a decade to produce a ricin vaccine. "Successful award of the proposal would support a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract for the advanced development of RiVax™ as a vaccine MCM candidate for biodefense threats to protect the public."

Soligenix' stock is worth $1.94 a share today, down from a high of two dollars and fifty cents about a month ago.

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